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Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Blog 36 Your Free PhD in Consumerism

...and why you should never buy the Big Issue!

Perhaps there is no such thing as society for ‘Thatcher’s children’. Maybe you can’t find a free lunch in today’s global village of the damned but for one week only, here is your chance to gain a free PhD in Contemporary Western Consumerism.
No Tuition Fees. No crippling student debt and just like a normal 21st century qualification – no guarantee that having it will lead to a better job than the one you might or might not have got if you’d left school at 14 / 16 / 18 (depending on the stance of the government of the day in keeping youngsters out of the job market statistics).

Signing up is unnecessary. There is no fresher’s week or rag week to survive. By the time you realise it was all a mistake this course will be complete.
Unlike the OU there are no summer schools for adults who missed out on irresponsible sex and alcohol and unlike those become-an-expert-quick courses there is no weekend away. I haven’t made this up after attending a correspondence course on how to make stuff up and get other people to believe it.

Just work your way methodically through the following 10-point module then claim your free BGOTR PhD by adding the letters BGOTR PhD to any letterhead or e-mail footnote or to your facebook page or have it tattooed on your tongue.
There is no need to make notes or remember anything.
There is no exam and anyway I wouldn’t mark it.
Everyone passes.
Here goes;

1.      If you hear any reports of bankers not being punished for decimating the global economy or not being sent to jail for criminal activity or still receiving bonuses despite being bailed out by taxpayers, tut and roll your eyes. If on the other hand you hear a report about foreigners or disabled people or the long-term unemployed receiving benefits, get really irate and indignant.
2.      Drag young children around shops. Spend the rest of the time asking them what they want to eat/wear/buy/do or where they want to go until you have pre-programmed them for an adult life of wanting stuff forever with no hope of any sense of fulfilment.
3.      Replace your sofa before it’s knackered. In fact regard your furniture as just another fashion item that must be kept up to date or your neighbours and friends will sneer. Put aside any notion that it’s just there to sit on and be comfortable.
4.      If you are in debt get a new credit card.
5.      When planning a wedding or hen/stag 'do' make sure your friends need to hijack Securicor simply to afford to attend. And remember – even if you work for an ordinary wage or are just starting out in life, getting in to debt for a ‘D’ list celebrity-look wedding is even more sensible than getting into debt in order to keep up with fashion and slightly less sensible than getting in to debt for an education.
6.      From the age of about 16 there is of course body issue spending. Why wait until you are forty something to butcher yourself, freeze your face, bleach your teeth. There is no part of your body you need feel comfortable about. No one is perfect but everyone should strive to be. If it aint like in the magazines chop it up or off or fill it with something. For girls think ‘Barbie’ for boys think ‘boy band’. Sex and attraction are irrelevant. YES obviously some of these procedures will make you truly repulsive to anyone at all never mind a potential partner – many of them will very definitely reduce sexual / sensual enjoyment – but hey – when was that ever the issue. Pay attention. No talking at the back.
7.      It goes without saying you must have a feature car / phone / i-pad etc etc etc. Shiny gadgets all round the kitchen (sufficient for a professional chef even if you only ever make beans on toast) are essential. Lots of new make-up (apparently it goes off!) If you don’t already realise you need to buy new clothes on at least a weekly basis you better stop right here, there is no hope for you. For heaven’s sake don’t look in a mirror and try and judge for yourself if something suits you WHAT IS THE POINT OF THAT? Just buy it if it’s in fashion and bloody well get rid of it when it’s not. And just stuff and more stuff and if it’s electrical all the better (guys I know you don’t need to be told that but some of the women!!!)
8.      Food. Just a quickie on this. Mainly you simply always need to be thinking about what you want to eat and not eating something that you already had once that week. Wander round the supermarket – preferably in a couple or WITH the kids, meander up and down the aisles disagreeing on what you want until you’ve got a bit of everything in the trolley. That way when it ends up getting chucked, it will smell… interesting. Eat out OBVIOUSLY as often as possible. Buy organic food that is heavily packaged so that it’s absorbed more chemicals from the wrapping than it could possibly ever have absorbed while growing OBVIOUSLY. Buy diet products, fat-reduced products and sugar-reduced products and things which say ‘BE GOOD TO YOURSELF’ on them in pastel colours because that way it’ll be someone else’s fault when you put on weight and ALWAYS purchase the buy-one-get-one-free items. That way at least a third of the stuff in the bin at the end of the week didn’t cost you anything.
9.      Never walk anywhere if you can get in the car and drive to a car park and then walk from there.
10.  And never NEVER buy the Big Issue. If you haven’t caught on yet – they ALL have Limousines and penthouse apartments and butlers and the only reason they are selling the Big Issue is because they are bored of champagne and need change for the parking space outside their accountant’s office where they get tax avoidance advice in exchange for a free copy of the Big Issue.

Subsidiary information can be gained from
Tabloid newspapers
Advertising hoardings

If you have not run down the street naked, screaming, drooling and tearing out your hair you are now a BGOTR PhD.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Blog 35. Eton Mess - Pudding or State of the Nation?

This week it’s that slightly hefty mix, both gritty and viscous, of politics and poetry. So prepare for that large-bowl-of-porridge-without-quite-enough-sugar feeling.
A shout in a storm in the wilderness, forty feet down a rocky, snake infested crevasse without a map (or sat-nav) and no one knows you’re missing, might sum up the tenor of this week’s blog. I prefer to think of it as a pitiful inadequate plea – a flea of a plea - to reclaim a country, a history, a social outlook that has been appropriated by the so-called elite; i.e. those bastards whose ancestors were greedier, nastier, more manipulative and had bigger sticks than yours and mine.

Country my Country

Country my country
Oak and Chaucer
Sugared Slavery
Satanic mills
Burning light
Chasing shadows

Ancient tree
Deep secret roots
Time breeds distance
 Cradle Africa
Magna Carta
Branches reaching

Country my homeland
I may claim
Like bewildered youth
I didn’t want birth
But life’s a gift
A phrase for all days

Country my universe
Half my history
As the passive body
Is defiled ad nauseam
Abused by the little men
With their small parts

Yet effectively rutting
In every orifice
So succeeds the rape
Forever amen

Parade of the inadequate
Circus of the bland
Lead by the nose
Shaken by the hand
Of the oily sycophant
Plagued by privilege

See bovine masses
With comfortable drugs
With debt
Commit mass suicide
There’s plenty more where they came from

Mesmeric baubles
Anaesthetic TV
Crowd pleasing
Death teasing

Nation their playground
Send in the young
Where they won’t go
To slaughter brothers
Hellish pits
Call centres

Subjugate sons
Slice up daughters
Stuff them with plastic
Let them eat cake
Or fake meat
Or fatty acids

Acidic fat
Corrode and bloat
Clever that
Conveyor-belt misery
Shit for all
But the few

Dilute dissent
A gadget a drink
You’re better than her
You’ve got more than him
Buy this ticket and you could

Country my father
Staring blankly
Wanting to help
No sword to hand
No rights no land
No words

How has the seed
Of spite prevailed
When better have failed
And the good do not
Close the schoolroom door

Blame your neighbour or
An immigrant
The grasping poor
Glare at the floor
Whatever you do
Don’t look up

Opulent tables
Sag with excess
Drop occasionally
A crumb
For the dumb
To fight over

Garden my sanctuary
Tree of knowledge
Tree of doubt
Pretty weeds
No violent deeds
Some shelter.

Paradise buried
Far beneath
Compact rocks
Concealed gates
With rusted locks
Coiled Snakes

Motherland state
Oppressed by weight
Of flowering ignorance
Plummeting down
To a new
Dark Age

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

34. Birthday Blog

No! Not the blog’s birthday – mine. And not today. Sunday - 21st April - if you want to put it in your diary for future reference. But no presents. Seriously put your wallet away. My compost heap is full so no vegetation. I do like chocolate but am very picky - 81% cocoa and not mixed in with other flavours, JUST CHOCOLATE (ok, maybe a bit of chilli) but there is enough stashed in my  cupboard to see me through a nuclear holocaust (take note Kim Jong un).

So what to do for a birthday? The obvious thing would be a birthday party. I think that every year. Maybe next year. I think that every year too.

What about a new direction /life make-over / career change / re-invention?

I considered becoming a film critic but the only thing I could think of for this week was ‘do not go and see Jack the Giant Killer’ or Slayer or whatever the blue blazes it’s called. And that isn’t much of a critique is it? But really. If whoever-the-flip-made-the-film is going to pillage the rich heritage of fairytales that have naturally evolved over centuries, get a script, overlay a decent adaptation and either find actors who fit the parts or do what Disney has done over the decades and bastardise the story properly under the heavy duvet of animation. The giants were good.

Secondly I thought I could be a chef. I recall mentioning in a previous blog that I was once on Ready Steady Cook (about 17 yrs ago - the Halloween edition). Sadly, the only reliable recipe I found to wave under your nose is one for Carrot Cake. It’s not even my recipe. My mate Judith gave it to me and I don’t think it was hers. Anyway – here it is.

You need CARROTS (obviously) about 8 oz grated. 6 oz of whatever flour you like to use, about the same of soft brown sugar and sunflower oil. 3 eggs - beaten. A teaspoon of vanilla (if you like it), a teaspoon of mixed spices (if you like). 1.5 teaspoons of bicarb and one of cream of tartar. Mix everything together for as long as you can be bothered and put in a greased 7 or 8 inch round tin. Bake at gas mark 4 for approximately an hour and 10 mins. Once it’s cooled you can put a cream cheese frosting on or just - EAT IT. Tadaah!

Ok – that’s my career as a chef sorted.

Lawyer. Done that. The hell of working with people with grey personalities and no souls was ultimately handy for background research (see my second novel The Companion Contract).

House Renovator. Did that. Frankly once the houses were done structurally, my interest pretty much waned. I’m just not that fascinated by wallpaper fashion, or curtain fabric and as far as I am concerned lights are so you can see what you are doing! My only recent home improvement has been replacing the ridiculous scrabble-in-the-gloom kitchen spot lights with triple-daylight-clarity strip lights, much to the bemusement of the young lecy. If you want to chop veg. in my kitchen you will need sunglasses.

Until yesterday I had not considered Escapology but maybe I should. After spending a pleasant and constructive morning with Cramlington Writers – my third visit I think – they locked me in the building having failed to notice, they later claimed, that I’d slipped to the loo. I didn’t think the session was that bad. The only option was to escape via a side window which they had foolishly left unlocked. I exited rather elegantly and without ripping my trousers or breaking any bits of me or the building.

Formal Politics. Did that. See front page of Newcastle Chronicle May local elections 1988. But frankly even before the glorious leader started his illegal testosterone fest in Iraq my time with the ‘party’ was over. I am capital ‘P’ political which you will know if you are a regular BGOTR bleader. I just do it in my own strange way now with mild GP affiliation.

Gardening is another option but frankly until I can get round to the idea of digging out the compost heap without needing to sit down and have ANOTHER cup of tea I don’t think so. Also I’ve had two nasty accidents in the garden, both requiring medical attention; branch-in-eye and tree-saw-through-thumb. If that isn’t Nature’s way of telling me to leave it to someone else, I don’t know what is.

Teacher – I haven’t got that much energy

Literary Critic - read Anna Karenina before you die. Done.

Health and Safety Advisor – keep out of the garden. Done.

I feel like I did when I was eight and considered becoming an inventor but concluded that everything had already been invented. Obviously there was still plenty of useful stuff to come (the interweb) and frankly useless stuff (plug-in air fresheners) as I’m sure you worked out but clearly that was not the path I was meant to take. So that brings me back to being a writer.

It took a long time to get round to acknowledging I needed to write, dedicate my energies to being a scribe and then admit it in public. When I was very young – somewhere between 6 and 8 I knew and told people that I would be a writer when I grew up. So all the other stuff was perhaps, as my friend Eve once said, ‘just collecting material’.

This coming birthday is dedicated to my wise child self. If you want to see what that looked like, go to the profile over on the right and have a look at yesterday's photo post.
In anticipation of Sunday,

Happy Birthday Me.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Blog 33. Can’t Cuss? Try a Comedy Curse!

Essential Expletives!

There is a reason for expletives. They have a purpose. The problem is they are over used and used inappropriately hence the amount of energy expended by your blogger at bus stops, in supermarkets etc frightening teenaged boys who think no one is going to challenge them when they punctuate their grunting with the ‘F’ word because they are with five of their mates.

In reality I do not mind swearing. It’s simply a matter of time, place and appropriateness.

Occasionally, every expletive ever invented and some yet to be thought of suddenly become essential. Sod’s law being what it is that will happen just when the kind of restrictions mentioned above unexpectedly apply to you.

Such is the case this week.

I’ve no way of knowing how many of the 4.5k+ bleaders are adults but generally speaking I write with the adult world in mind so I have not felt I need to be too restrictive about my language. Since doing the Writing Residency in Newbiggin however I know some of the youngsters have visited the blog (and left very nice messages for me – thank you) so for a little while I will be circumspect. This tepid self-censorship could not have come at a worse time.

Last week one of my Yahoo accounts – frequently spammed in both directions – was totally annihilated, hacked to death. The e-mail burglars made off with about 240 of my mail shot and performance and poetry contacts. What I really desperately need and want to do this week is plaster this blog with the worst expletives I can think of – in gigantic font, underlined and in bold and in a type face that would strike terror into the meanest heart.

Expletives become essential when something so frustrating, inconvenient and irritating has happened that you almost implode but that something is a long way short of an earthquake.

In case you received one of the fake e-mails I am not in the Philippines, not being held by the police and have not had my money and passport stolen, I do not require money to be wired to an account that will be specified when you reply to the mail yada yada yada...

Instead – having thought long and hard about it – the only solution is to e-curse the e-burglars (oh and Yahoo for being crap when I tried to report the problem) so here goes

To whom it may concern,
I hope that you;

Get cystitis.
Trip on a paving slab when everyone is looking at you.
Burn your toast every morning for a year.
Accidentally have sex with Michael Gove.
Are forced to view people’s Facebook pictures of themselves for 12 unbroken hours.

I hope that you have to travel on the no.14 bus from Morpeth for three months listening to people discussing their ailments in loud detail, highlighting the ‘tests’ the doctor sent them for. The word ‘tests’ spoken in mysterious tones so you get the full drama. Should you tell them or should I that the reason they are repeatedly sent for ‘testsssss’ is because the only way the doctors can get their own back is by sticking needles in them. And no – that look of fixed stupefaction that the medic wears when you are talking is nothing to do with amazement at the unique nature of your medical condition.

But I digress.

I hope the e-burglars lose all spatial awareness when stressed or tired (oh sorry, that’s me).
I hope the e-burglars get diarrhoea AND constipation.
I hope they get on stage at an important gig and fluff their words (oh no that’s me too).
I hope they have to walk through Kielder forest in the summer with no clothes on and get their soft bits chewed by midges.
Accidentally watch Lake Placid 1/2/4.
Get stuck in a room with raw turkey twizzlers and no cooker and no other food for a month.
Each week, be forced to listen to last week’s edition of Money Box Live.
The zombie resurrection of Margaret Thatcher eats their faces off.

In other words I wish they would just F@%&*+ %@~?”$%*+ff

I’m sorry your blogger has gone up in a puff of smoke. We hope to get her back together and resume normal services in time for next Tuesday.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Blog 32. N.H.S & the Condom of Common Sense

No – it’s not the latest offering from J.K.Rowling or a new Indiana Jones film.

The N.H.S is in mortal danger from the rampant virus of feral Capitalism. The only prophylactic which stands any chance of saving her is The Condom of Common Sense.

O.K., bear with me – you know it usually pans out in the end.

Simple common sense is both overstated rhetorically by politicians and vastly under-used when policy is being formed. Elected officials glaze over in ecstasies of self importance when making extravagant claims about the difficulties of finding answers. The dramatic natures of problems vie with the delicious complexity of any possible solution is as prime reason why nothing sensible happens. Let me share quick analogy (if you’re not already reeling from the opening metaphor).

Many years ago I had reason to be driving a large, old, red and rusted ex-council transit van. Unexpectedly a small portion of the key snapped off in the ignition rendering the van un-drivable. Without funds for a trained mechanic, advice was sought from someone who knew a great deal more about vehicles than I did. There followed much humming and shaking of the head, frowning and peering into the gloom of the cab, some tutting and more shaking of the head. The conclusion was that the van could and should be rendered operable by smashing the steering column. Despite nervous protestations, it proved impossible to dampen enthusiasm for this plan once it gained purchase. The yanking and smashing, thumping and general vehicle brutalisation began. The whole van rocked alarmingly and – if it could’ve spoken – the van would, I’m sure, have been screaming in agony and complaint. The smasher, sweating profusely, eventually had to take a rest and also go in search of larger, heavier implements with which to recommence destruction. (He did not depart with the words “I’ll be back” – but he could have done).

In the interim, I dashed into my little flat and with sudden inspiration found myself rooting round in my sewing basket. There I procured two needles. While the smasher was weighing up sledgehammers, wrenches and other instruments of ruin, I snuck out to the van. With the concentration of the desperate, I managed after a few minutes to extricate the shard of key from the ignition.

Sometimes even when the patient is large and red, old and a bit knackered and the problem seems to require brute force – the solution may be simple and elegant – involving very little cost, very little violence. The solution, if carefully or inspirationally conceived need not cause damage greater than the original problem.

So – the N.H.S.

I have listened with increasing incredulity over the last few months as crises (some caused by the politicians now putting forward the idiotic schemes) are met with ridiculous, complex, costly, mind-numbingly stupid proposals. From more convoluted private funding and targets to farting round yet again with the training of nurses when fundamentally it is top down that the problems are emanating.

And here is the simple, elegant solution – the equivalent of the two small needles, powered by the concentration and determination to deal with the difficulty at the heart.

No one, absolutely no one should be able to make any decisions about the National Health Service at any level for any function of the service at any time however important or trivial if they themselves have private health insurance.